Editor's note: This week, we looked at the road each of the eight singles players and eight doubles teams took to qualify for this year's GNP Seguros WTA Finals Cancun in Mexico.
Season at a glance
Still only 19 years old, Coco Gauff has been a factor on the Hologic WTA Tour since she burst on to the professional scene at age 15. But it is her summer of 2023 that helped define her rise into the elite.
Gauff had actually been in the mix to qualify for the WTA Finals all year long, staying in or near the Top 10 of the Race since she won the Auckland title in the first week of the season.
But Gauff failed to reach any more finals over the next six months, and she was unable to defend a large chunk of her 2022 Roland Garros runner-up points. Despite multiple quarterfinals and semifinals, her ranking lingered around its season-starting position of No.7.
The rest of the story has now been told many times. After a first-round loss to Sofia Kenin at Wimbledon, Gauff regrouped with coaches Pere Riba and Brad Gilbert and her family. Her much-discussed extreme forehand grip was left unchanged; instead, returns, footwork and tactics were tweaked.
"[Wimbledon] was a tough, tough loss, because I thought I was playing good tennis leading up to that," Gauff said at the US Open. "I just felt like people were like, 'Oh, she's hit her peak and she's done. It was all hype.' I see the comments. People don't think I see it, but I see it.
"Honestly after that, I was, like, 'OK, I have a lot of work to do.'"
- Captured her first Grand Slam title at the US Open
- Won four singles titles in 2023, including her first WTA 1000 title in Cincinnati and her first WTA 500 title in Washington, D.C.
- Comes into the WTA Finals with 22 wins in her last 24 matches, which included a season-best 16-match winning streak
- Set a new career-high singles ranking of No.3
- Also qualified for the WTA Finals in doubles as the Race No.1 team with Jessica Pegula
Instantly, Gauff reaped the fruits of her labor, picking up the highest-level titles of her career in August. Her first WTA 500 title in Washington, D.C. was followed two weeks later by her first WTA 1000 title in Cincinnati.
Gauff had suddenly become the hottest player of the summer hard-court season. But could she extend this steep incline and level up once again at her home Grand Slam?
how it started vs how it’s going pic.twitter.com/o9Pip6Eozt— Coco Gauff (@CocoGauff) September 12, 2023
Armed with world-class footspeed and a tenacious spirit (four of her seven wins were in three sets), Gauff won the US Open, her first Grand Slam title.
All told, Gauff went 18-1 during the North American summer hard-court swing to rise into the Top 3 and cement her second straight singles qualification for the WTA Finals.
"It's been a long journey to this point," Gauff said after her US Open victory. "I think people were putting a lot of pressure on me to win. I felt that at 15, I had to win a Slam at 15.
"I think that was, you know -- not the mistake, because everything led to this moment, so there was no mistakes. But that was a little bit of the pressure that I was feeling. Now I just realize that I just need to go out there and try my best. ... I'm really happy of how I've been able to manage it all."